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'Twas the Fortnight Before Christmas: Forging of The Bells | Some Children, pt 1

In My Own Hand

MY HANDS | The most immediate connecting-agents to the worlds I perceive. And when they meet with the achromatic semitones, electricity fires in my brain and races through my skin. Sensations and environs so familiar generate a quiet, rooted confidence not unlike linguistic fluency. In a sheer second's time, a new idea forms -- then informs my heart. Pulses respond, incitement ensues and at once doubles, beating blood-rhythms into...

'Twas the Fortnight Before Christmas: Forging of The Bells | Some Children, pt 1

AJ DeGrasse

Some Children See Him

Some Children See Him

SOME CHILDREN | 'Tis no hyperbole: I get to make fun noises with some remarkable music-buddies. And if the task-du-jour is one of my own curation, then to a "man" those buddies would likely betray how I consistently tend to lead us out to the dangers by the fire's-edge. 

It must have something to do with my boyhood penchant for experimentation and discovery and invention. Or all those years as a team athlete. Let me explain...

I am wanted for my crimes against the obsessively "prepared". I'm aware of my notoriety for convening creative collaborations with little to no detailed script, other than an articulated goal and the collective respect for one another's training, vocabulary, equipment, and character. Give me an outstanding, singular strand of acutely attentive and interdependent DNA over a dozen exhaustive rehearsals with intermediately slack and self-preserving sorts.

And it's not for a lack of love for grand design or architecture, which I adore! It's that I prefer -- even crave -- those more elusive triumphs harvested only when greats are gathered under common cause, set upon equally unbalanced footing, and forced to undress their organic power and trust (and celebrate) each other's inspired instincts -- like members of a legendary athletic team. See, the tendency for us creatives is often to perch competitively in isolation -- to cloister onto one's own self-erected hill of perceived safety and advantage, for the chief aim of personal nourishment or outright survival. But, consider that the highest achievements of a people often require the greatest expenditures of personal - even reputational - risk. (Fret not. I ain't about to wax political.)

The Bells of Good Will would simply not be, were it not for this -- were it not for the way each musician, illustrator, and collaborateur brought to the effort all that they had, and trusted the others for the rest. 'Twas a marvel to watch. And since you couldn't be right there as it happened -- and because I had the best seat in the house at the time -- allow me to post a mini-flurry of blog entries herein to bring you inside that studio with me one year ago, and up close as can be...

Dallas Kruse and Zion Studios in Santa Ana, CA.

Dallas Kruse and Zion Studios in Santa Ana, CA.

HISTORIES | The fuller contextual backstories behind this album -- and the fellas who helped me get her dressed up for Christmas -- go back years, and shall come forward in time. For this part of the tale, we must begin with the introduction of my friend and one of Orange County's fast-emerging creative forces, Dallas Kruse and the curiously ornate man-cave that is Zion Studios. Dallas is one of those mad-scientist multi-linguists, musically speaking -- keyboards, strings, brass, reeds, percussion, voice, and knobs (binary code). Yet his fluency surpasses mere instrumental execution -- He's a veteran arranger, composer, band leader, engineer, and can read notation as well as improvise by ear. He also keeps an organized calendar and actually returns phone calls - an utter unicorn amongst the artistically minded. And especially fun for me is how -- since we both grew up avid artists and athletes attending small religious institutions in SoCal -- we can get deeply wrapped in any number of conversation trails, whether it's John Lennon, John Elway, or Saint John the Apostle.

Dallas and AJ co-producing The Bells of Good Will album.
[Nov 2014]
p: Milespeed

Athough we'd only ever worked together live, my intuition told me his "studio voice" had to be the one ringing alongside my own from start to finish. Way back in the Gypsy Lounge residency days, instead of a band of supporting musicians I'd sometimes slate only Kruse and his mobile Hammond B3 Organ to join me onstage. Those keys-only duet nights made for some highly inventive and rewarding presentations. He has a way of assessing all that is and is not at hand, and fashioning something deeply satisfying and fresh from it. Like a great culinary artist. (I think he can cook too, ladies. Dallas, do you cook? I know you throw on a mean cup of Keurig.)

For the better part of a year, I had warned Señor Krüse that I was seeking a studio project for us to work together at Zion. And so, when my friends green-lit this wild notion in October, his was the first number dialed. Edge of the fire, for certain. But I knew that if Dallas were on board, I could be confident in a pledge to fans that, indeed, their generous donations and pre-orders would make for tasty Black-Friday pie.

"So uhh... What's your November look like, DK? Could I have it? ... Yeah, all of it."

(continued at pt 2...)

As you spin this album in your home or share it at your parties - check back here to learn the stories behind the music you're hearing. And post your thoughts in the comments below alongside others who are soaking in it like you. Or if you prefer, click the RSS link below to get each new blog entry automatically fed to your browser's bookmarks as soon as it posts

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